MiraCosta College in Oceanside. Photo via miracosta.edu

MiraCosta College has received a state grant to offer internships, mentoring and financial support for students pursuing careers in stem cell research and manufacturing.

The Oceanside college was one of 16 in California to receive grants totaling $46 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state’s stem cell agency. MiraCosta’s share is almost $2.9 million.

“This will broaden participation,” said Mike Fino, dean of mathematics and science at MiraCosta. “We will bring more students who are underrepresented into the fields of regenerative medicine and cell-based manufacturing and help them be successful.”

Students who are working toward a bachelor’s degree in biomanufacturing at MiraCosta will be eligible to participate in the program. Two-thirds of the grant money will go directly to students, with each one in the program receiving about $68,000 in support over two years.

MiraCosta and Solano Community College in Fairfield were the only community colleges to receive the state grants, worth $2,894,500. They will fund similar programs known as COMPASS – Creating Opportunities through Mentorship and Partnership Across Stem Cell Science.

According to Fino, the college will immediately begin developing an application process so students can join the program for the spring 2023 semester. The program will accept a total of 25 COMPASS scholars, through three cohorts, until the grant concludes in 2027.

Fino noted that, to maximize inclusion, the grant has additional funding available to provide accommodations to disabled students.

“We are here on behalf of our community and our students,” he said. “This grant is for them, so they have pathways into a growing high-wage field.”

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was created in 2004 following passage of a $3-billion bond measure to encourage stem cell research.


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Ellen Bullock